Group Meeting – 28th October 2016

Just a couple of weeks after the momentous occasion of the presentation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex to Ferring Conservation Group, things returned to relative normality for them with the latest in their series of monthly meetings.

This time around, they welcomed Ivan Lang as their guest speaker, and as one of the two wardens at the RSPB Medmerry and Pagham reserves, his presentation mainly featured the development of the new Medmerry reserve over recent years.

He outlined that the reserve came about in conjunction with the Environment Agency, where a more long term sustainable option was required to protect the area from sea flooding, and the coastline was to be realigned to allow the sea to naturally flood some of the land under the control of new sea defences further inland. A 3 to 4 year major building programme followed to the point when in 2013, the old coastline was breached in a controlled way, and it is hoped that with sea level rises expected, the new defences will maintain their integrity for about 100 years.

The Group heard that since 2013, the reserve has developed positively much faster than expected, with important bird species numbers such as Dunlin, Grey Plover and Avocets increasing, and also reptiles such as Slow Worms, Lizards, Grass Snakes and Adders, plus fish such as Mullet, Bass and Pipe Fish being seen on a regular basis within its confines. There have in addition been visits over the last 3 years by rarer species – a successful fledgling by a pair of Black Winged Stilts, Spoonbills, Ospreys, and even a mass sighting of Smoothhound sharks.

The reserve is now reaching the point when it could be considered for a much higher level of designation as a Special Protection Area under EU law, and the Group hope to organise a visit there in the not too distant future to experience it for themselves.